AUSTRALIA – ENA Respiratory, a biotechnology company developing a first-in-class nasal spray for the prevention of COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections, has initiated a Phase I human safety study of INNA-051.

The fast-acting and convenient nasal spray has been developed to activate innate immunity in the nose, the primary entry portal of most respiratory viral infections.

Ena Respiratory adds that the vaccine could be used prior to or shortly after exposure to a virus, prompting the body to respond faster to protect patients from illness and reduce the chance of community spread.

“Vaccines have been slowing the spread of COVID-19 in a number of countries, but the world remains at risk with the emergence of variants with increased transmissibility, such as the Delta variant, first discovered in India. Being agnostic to specific virus or viral variant is one of the potential key features of INNA-051,” said Christophe Demaison, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of ENA Respiratory. “As we continue to combat current and emerging variants of the virus that causes COVID-19, there is a significant need for convenient therapies that boost protection in at-risk populations such as the elderly and those with known COVID risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension. By stimulating innate immune response, we hope to create an additional line of defense against COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections.”

The first two cohorts in the Phase I single ascending dose study have been successfully dosed and the study is expected to be completed by the third quarter of 2021.

Recently, the company announced that it had secured an additional US$24 million (AU$32 million) in funding from Brandon Capital Partners and Minderoo Foundation, with co-investment from Uniseed, to support continued development of INNA-051.

The COVID-19 vaccine market is diversifying greatly as new innovations against the virus are springing up with nasal spray vaccines gaining popularity across the globe.

At the University of Iowa (UI), researchers are aiding national efforts to curb the disease with tools like an experimental nasal vaccine and gathering information to increase youth inoculations.

In partnership with the University of Georgia, a UI team recently published promising findings showing a single-dose inhaled COVID-19 vaccine fully protected mice against lethal infections and also blocked animal-to-animal transmission.

The preclinical trial study data from the University could lead to progression into clinical trials with humans involved according to Paul McCray who was the co-author of the intranasal vaccine study.

A previous successful vaccine that used the nasal spray technology is the influenza (flu) vaccine that can be used to protect against an influenza A(H1N1) virus, an influenza A(H3N2) virus and two influenza B viruses.